Friday, June 5, 2015

Random Network Reviews: The Great American Bash 1997

The Great American Bash 1997
June 15th, 1997 - The MARK of the Quad Cities – Attendance: 9,613

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, 1997 was the best year to be a wrestling fan. Smack dab in the middle of the Monday Night Wars, you had WCW leading the charge ratings wise with the red hot nWo angle, while the WWF was in the midst of the epic Austin/Hart rivalry and an underrated Undertaker run as WWF Champion. We land in the middle of that great year on the WCW side of things with the Great American Bash.

Typical mediocre looking video opens the show and it somehow tries to compare DDP’s career to America. So would that make the nWo an opposing country? Commentary is the Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes. I love how ridiculous these three are together so it should supply some great moments.

Respect Match
Psychosis w/ Sonny Ono vs. Ultimo Dragon

Mike Tenay joins commentary for this, because the regular commentary team didn’t know enough moves and the action was usually too quick for them. This is a respect match because Ono wants Psychosis to teach his former client, Dragon some respect. In the early goings, Dragon gets the better, forcing Psychosis to take breathers outside. The crowd is pretty hot for this. Psychosis spits at Dragon and they get into a bit of an awkward exchange before Psychosis nails him mid leap frog. It’s being hammered home that this is a different side of Psychosis. Dragon does his headstand spot in the corner before kicking Psychosis down and the crowd ERUPTS! Dragon hits a tilt-a-whirl back breaker and targets that part of the body. A snapmare takes Psychosis outside and Dragon goes to follow with a plancha but misses and holds his knee. Psychosis distracts the official, allowing Ono to kick Dragon a few times because apparently, he’s a martial arts expert. He drapes Dragon across the second rope and hits a guillotine leg drop. It’s a cool spot but I hate how phony it looks since Dragon has to literally hold himself in place for it. Outside, Ono goes to kick Dragon some more but gets caught. Dragon goes for a suplex as the crowd gets loud but Psychosis stops him. The rally begins by Dragon with some kicks and a handspring elbow. They do a goofy looking rollup spot but make up for it a bit as Dragon hits an Asai moonsault. Back inside, Dragon hits a Tombstone but only gets two. Psychosis comes back with a flying spinning heel kick and then does a suicide dive OVER THE TURNBUCKLE POST! That is a gangster way to do it. They trade near falls inside before Psychosis tries a top rope moonsault, only to be met with a dropkick! Dragon sets up his opponent on the top and snaps off the top rope hurricanrana. He goes for the Tiger Suplex but gets distracted by Ono. Psychosis no sells and takes forever to get up and dropkick Dragon, who waits for it like a moron. Schiavone gets credit for trying to cover this up. Ono gets on the apron and goes for a spin kick but hits Psychosis by mistake, leading right into the Dragon Sleeper! Somehow the kick doesn’t cause a DQ, and Psychosis taps out.

Winner: Ultimo Dragon in 14:21
Really good opener that had potential to be so much more. They botched a few things and had some awkward moments but the action was good. The lack of a DQ near the end was dumb, but again, both guys worked hard and the red hot crowd helped. ***3/4

Chris Benoit is chatting with fans online, but he’s not typing. There’s a nerdy kid typing what he says but by the sound of it, he’s going way slower than Benoit’s words. Poor fan isn’t getting his money’s worth.

Number One Contender’s Match
Harlem Heat w/ Sister Sherri vs. The Steiner Brothers

On his way to the ring, Booker T says “CAN YOU DIG IT SUCKA?” because some things never change. Also, the Steiners had awful music. Scott Steiner was nearing Big Poppa Pump levels of muscle. The bigger brothers start as Stevie Ray goes toe to toe with Scott. Harlem Heat is forced to rethink strategy outside with Sherri and their new plan is to go after Rick. He get the tag and powerslams Stevie. Booker runs in and eats the STEINERLINE! After more regrouping, Stevie Ray slows things with a full nelson. NOBODY HAS BROKEN THE MASTER LOCK OF STEVEIE RAY. Scott does however, but it leads nowhere. Scott tries to fly but misses so he gets hit with a Harlem sidekick after the SPINAROONIE! This has a strange feel to it since the faces are kind of dominating the heels. Stevie suplexes Rick outside, which Schiavone calls a powerslam. There goes that classic commentary I was talking about earlier. Booker and Rick go at it until Rick catches a kick and slams him. Rick makes the “hot” tag, even though he didn’t really take the beating. Scott comes in fresh and does his thing but a cover after a belly to belly is broken up. Rick and Stevie fight outside as Scott hits the Frankensteiner. Vincent runs in and hits a weak elbow on Booker, causing the disqualification.

Winners via disqualification: Harlem Heat in 12:01
Kind of dull and disappointing. It had a strange vibe to it and felt like the teams were kind of going through the motions. Also, the finish was stupid. So the nWo, who had the Tag Titles, don’t want to face the Steiners, which I get. However, that makes Harlem Heat look like a weak team. **

The Steiner Brothers beat up Vincent after the match. Even though the nWo is something like 800 wrestlers deep at this point, nobody comes to help him.

Hugh Morris vs. Konnan
Your name is Hugh Morris. What? Hugh Morris. What? Is that funny? Is that…humorous? What? As he comes out, he tells the camera “SHUCKY DUCKY” and I’ve come to the conclusion that is where Booker T stole the phrase from. Morris and Konnan start with fists as this is apparently a bitter and personal feud. Morris uses his power advantage in the beginning but Konnan fights back with his rolling clothesline. He goes to a headlock and shouts “VIVA MEXICO!” He gives up on that quickly and goes to a dropkick. Hugh Morris breaks free of a submission and launches Konnan into the steel steps. Something about WCW’s steps don’t sound nearly as rough as the WWE ones. Impressive spinning heel kick from Morris before he goes to a rest hold. Schiavone admits that he was wrong about this being a fight with not many wrestling holds. Morris and Konnan are like FUCK STORYTELLING, because they want to work a wrestling match rather than a fight. They continue to trade submissions with the highlight being Konnan pulling a Doink and uses the Stump Puller. They get into an awkward exchange that Brain tries to cover up by saying they’re exhausted. The crowd that was scoring hot during the opener, is now silent. Morris climbs up for No Laughing Matter but takes FOREVER. So long that Konnan telegraphs that he’s going to move, gets halfway up, lays back down for a few seconds, then gets up and pulls him down. Morris hits the buckle on the way down, which somehow knocks him out. Konnan applies the Tequila Sunrise and wins since Morris is out cold.

Winner: Konnan in 10:34
I don’t even know what I just watched. It was supposed to be a fight but ended up just being a boring match. The finish was poorly executed and it completely killed the crowd. DUD

Gene Okerlund pumps the WCW Hotline at 1-900-909-9900, saying that they have juicy news about someone they can’t mention on TV. I never called one of these so I wonder if they ever really had any legit news or if they were just blowing smoke up the fans’ asses. He brings out Public Enemy for an interview. They cut a promo that would have gotten over in ECW but the WCW fans were confused and lost. They did pop at the mention of their city name though. YAY, HE SAID THE QUAD CITIES! THAT’S WHERE WE LIVE!

Glacier vs. Wrath w/ Mortis and James Vandenberg
Oh my goodness, is this seriously on Pay-Per-View? Trying to capitalize on the popularity of Mortal Kombat, WCW came up with Wrath, Mortis and Glacier but it was all ridiculous. WCW reportedly spent a TON of money on Glacier, his entrance and his gear, which turned out to be a giant waste. Mortis is chained to a corner outside, so commentary mentions that if he goes to the corner, things could still be bad. Why not just ban Mortis from ringside? They try and work some karate in with Glacier barely connecting on a dropkick that takes Wrath outside. Tenay is back on commentary even though I don’t think this will have nearly the moves that the opener did. Vandenberg distracts but it leads nowhere as Glacier kicks Wrath. The fight stays outside as Wrath’s whip is countered into the steps. He goes HEADFIRST. Mortis is trying to break the handcuffs while Tenay tries to explain the backstory of Mortis and Glacier. It’s absurd. Inside, Wrath takes control with a sleeper of sorts. Glacier rallies but the crowd doesn’t care and he misses a cross body. Wrath jumps from the apron onto Glacier because he was an impressive big man dammit. I always liked him. He continues with a nice flying clothesline for two. He tries another high risk move but misses. This leads nowhere as Wrath hits a side slam. Schiavone stated earlier that these guys want to pin each other, but now says that Wrath doesn’t to pin Glacier. MAKE UP YOUR MIND MAN! Glacier nails a second rope suplex and Mortis gets on the apron. Glacier knocks him off but walks into a back suplex. Vandenberg throws a chain in the ring but COMPLETELY overshoots Wrath. Glacier picks it up and hits Wrath with it to win.

Winner: Glacier in 12:01
First of all, why did this get twelve minutes? Second, faces cheating is not usually a good thing. Third, despite Wrath’s best efforts, this wasn’t very good. It was nonsensical and Glacier just wasn’t good. *

Mortis gets out of the handcuffs and they gang up on Glacier. He gets handcuffed and tries to attack before magically realizing that he has been cuffed. They literally just jump him because the faces aren’t allowed to stand tall in WCW.

WCW Women’s Championship vs. Career
Akira Hokuto (c) w/ Sonny Ono vs. Madusa

WCW had a Women’s Title? Hokuto attacks instantly and does a hair mare before choking Madusa in the corner. Piledriver from Hokuto before she just blatantly steps on Madusa’s face. She forgets to sell anything that has happened as she connects with two dropkicks. She pulls a Curt Hennig with a running neck snap but Hokuto goes to pulling the hair. The crowd is not hot but they are way more into this than the last two matches. More choking from the champion as Lee Marshall, who joined commentary, mentions that both girls were trained by men. I feel like I haven’t heard Dusty speak in forever. Madusa hits some poor looking kicks and what has to be the fifth or sixth snapmare of the match. Double axe handle from the challenger but she seems to hurt her leg. Hokuto smartly hits a knee breaker, though it looked like crap. Hokuto locks in a surfboard that looks very painful. Despite the bad knee, Madusa hits a variation of Trish Stratus’ handstand hurricanrana, which I had no idea she did first. A powerbomb gets her two but the knee is still giving problems. Hokuto misses a top rope move and eats a German suplex but Ono pulls Madusa’s leg out from under her bridge. Madusa is selling the leg work much better than she was selling stuff earlier. She tries an atomic drop but collapses, so Hokuto drops her on her head and retains.

Winner and Still WCW Women’s Champion: Akira Hokuto in 11:41
That got a lot more time than I expected and was actually my second favorite match of the night. Madusa sold the emotions of her desperation well and the leg work was well done. Impressive. **1/2

Madusa cries in the ring while Bobby Heenan ridicules her. You have to love the Brain. The go to Gene Okerlund who tries to interview Madusa as she’s being helped out by a doctor and referee. He comes off as a total asshole who is like “do you think your knee is out for good? Does that even matter since your career is over?” Madusa slaps the microphone away from him and Gene is somehow surprised at this reaction. The crowd even chants “leave her alone.”

Death Match
Chris Benoit vs. Meng w/ Jimmy Hart

So, I’m curious about what exactly makes this a “death match”. Benoit jumps out and beats on Meng before he even gets into the ring. Once he gets him in the ring, he applies the Cripple Crossface but Meng powers out and nicely sits him atop the turnbuckle. They trade some stuff until Benoit suplexes Meng outside, but it comes off odd and I think Meng got caught on the top rope. Meng is fine as he gets Benoit down and the referee counts Benoit so I guess this is a Last Man Standing match. After a powerbomb from Meng, Benoit is down for about a count of eight. I can’t tell because Nick Patrick isn’t shouting the count and seems to be just waving his arms and not using his fingers. Dragon sleeper by Meng as Ultimo Dragon cries infringement in the back. Chops from Benoit seem to have no effect and Meng hits an impressive splash. He covers, like a dunce so Patrick has to tell him that’s not how you win. Benoit is up, they fight outside for a short while, and once back inside, and Benoit hits a German and bridges it. DO EITHER OF YOU KNOW THE RULES? Meng is up and eats another German. Benoit survives the Tongan Death Grip and the fight goes outside again where both men are just chopping each other. Meng slows things down inside until Benoit locks in the Crossface. Meng reaches the ropes and Benoit is told to break it, but why? This is a “Death Match”. There’s no disqualification. He gets the move back on two more times and the last time, Meng fights hard but fades out. They call for the bell, but I thought this could only end in a 10 count?

Winner: Chris Benoit in 14:59
Disappointing is the word I’d use for this. Benoit was great and Meng was an underrated tough guy but something about this didn’t click. **3/4

Despite winning, Chris Benoit does the stretcher job and Meng is just knocked out cold. It takes forever, but Meng now also does a stretcher job. As they go to Mean Gene, Meng falls off the stretcher and Gene tells the camera to catch it. Gene is a total dick tonight. He plugs the WCW Hotline again before an advertisement airs for Bash at the Beach. Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman will be there!

Kevin Greene vs. Steve “Mongo” McMichael w/ Debra McMichael
I expect this to suck hard. Kevin Greene charges the ring and takes him down before a three point stance leads to a clothesline. Mongo turns the tide and goes after the knee on the outside. He brings Greene over to his mom, who wasn’t mentioned before this and she hits Mongo with her purse. Why isn’t she ejected? Mongo gets right back in control inside the ring though, so there’s that. Every time that Greene gets some offense, Mongo jus turns things around. He puts his finger in Greene’s ear, and I never knew that a wet Willy was an offensive move. After forgetting about it, Mongo goes back to the knee. Green climbs to the top, so I guess his knee is fine, and he hits a diving shoulder block. They fight outside and Debra fakes an ankle injury but Greene doesn’t fall for it so she stops. That’s it. Nothing else comes from this. Inside, Greene misses a splash in the corner and Mongo clubs away on him. Even though he’s in control, Jeff Jarrett runs out with a briefcase and goes to hit Greene, but clocks Mongo instead. Greene covers and wins.

Winner: Kevin Greene in 9:21
So, I commend both guys for trying their best. The thing is, they had no business on a Pay-Per-View and even less business going nearly ten minutes. Neither guy is a true worker and this should have been a tag match with maybe Jeff Jarrett and another actual wrestler to help this. However, it was still better than Konnan/Morris earlier. 3/4*

Jeff Jarrett watches the 1-2-3 happen instead of helping Mongo so Debra comes out and yells at him. She would eventually get over it and manage Jeff in the WWF. Madusa is shown in the back and they talk about how she might need reconstructive surgery, which would keep her out about eight months. SHE IS RETIRED YOU CLOWNS! Tony Schiavone never ceases to amaze me.

WCW World Tag Team Championship
The Outsiders (c) w/ Syxx vs. Ric Flair and Roddy Piper

This was when the Wolfpac was just the Outsiders and Syxx before it became its own thing and ended up being stupid. Ric Flair starts hot and his chops cause the Outsiders to talk strategy with Syxx. Or Syxx and Hall are discussing where to get coke. Bad taste? Maybe. Flair bump in the corner and he walks the apron right into a Nash big boot. Flair gets sent into the ropes and clearly sets himself up to have his foot grabbed by Syxx, yet they still mistime it. Nash gets the tag and does basic Nash stuff like elbows in the corner and a side slam for two. Roddy Piper gets the hot tag and applies the Sleeper Hold that Hall sells TERRIBLY! He picks him up and crotches him on the top rope to break it. Syxx gets in a cheap kick on Piper, so Flair forgets the match and decides to light Syxx up with shots going up the ramp and to the back. Piper fights for his life but Nash just pounds on him. Piper tries to tag but realizes he’s alone. He still trash talks and tries to fight but it is futile. The Outsiders just end him.

Winners and still WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders in 10:02
Probably went a bit too long for the guys working. Piper was not good at this time and Hall and Nash were in full mail it in mode. Flair leaving was a dumb move too. *

Michael Buffer is out, which pisses me off because he sucks. He informs us that the main event will be contested under Lights Out rules. The lights in the arena go out but comes back on so I’m not sure what this means.

Falls Count Anywhere
DDP w/ Kimberly vs. Macho Man Randy Savage w/ Elizabeth

Kimberly comes out to the stage and while Randy Savage is watching, DDP comes from behind and starts the fight. He goes for the early Diamond Cutter, which I don’t like. Why would someone who wants his hand on Savage try and end this quickly? DDP actually does a plancha outside but his ribs are hurt. For those who don’t know, DDP had taped ribs for like six years. It’s the equivalent to Bob Orton’s arm injury. He even had them as part of his attire in WCW/NWO Revenge. The fight spills inside and out as they move through the crowd. Savage is taking a beating, being thrown into a wall and the rails. Savage turns things around when they get back to ringside, tossing DDP into steps. He throws powder into DDP’s eyes and then hits him with some foreign object. Savage exposes DDP’s ribs, like the tape is protecting it that much as the crowd chants for “Sting.” Savage chooses to lay out the referee and then piledrives him. WCW folks; taking ref bumps to the next level. Another ref comes out and is taken out too. The fight moves to the aisle, where Savage is still beating on Page. They move to a BBQ area, which I have no clue why it exists. It’s not like it was used for a segment earlier. DDP slams Savage through a picnic table and dumps charcoal on him. As they go back to the ring area, Savage goes for a piledriver on the concrete but Nick Patrick stops him. WHY? IT’S NO DQ! Savage agrees and he takes out Patrick. DDP lays him out with a chair while Dusty shouts to pin him so Heenan shouts “THERE IS NO REFEREE DUSTY!” He rolls him in the ring, even though this is falls count anywhere and gets hit with a low blow. Page doesn’t care because he counters a suplex into the Diamond Cutter. Scott Hall comes out but fails as DDP takes him down with a terrible looking and terribly sold atomic drop. Savage nails him with the title and then he eats an Outsider’s Edge. An elbow drop from Savage finishes this off.

Winner: Macho Man Randy Savage in 16:56
This was literally just a brawl and it was fine at being that. But was there a need for Savage to go over? Also, the crowd wanted to see Sting badly but you end the show like this? Not good.**1/2

Overall: 4/10; Weak. A surprising lack of the nWo gave me hope that this show would be good but it disappointed. The only standout match was the opener. Besides that, there was a solid women’s match, an underwhelming “death match” and a not bad main event. However, the ending was anti-climactic, the two tag matches sucked and let’s not even get started on Glacier/Wrath or the incredibly bad Konnan/Morris bout. Up next on “Random Network Reviews” will be No Mercy 2005!